What is the importance of branding in business?Written by Scarlett Irons 1 November 2021
Why is branding important?
Good branding is the reason why if you ask a group of people to draw a ketchup bottle the majority would draw a shape that mirrors a bottle of Heinz ketchup – some might even go as far to include the brand’s name and logo. Without effective branding that taps into the hearts and minds of the consumer, many of today’s major brands wouldn’t be where they are – and Heinz wouldn’t be able to use the strap line ‘it has to be Heinz’.
Branding is important because it is what makes a memorable impression on consumers, as 95% of our decision making is made in the subconscious. A brand acts as a shorthand to tell consumers and clients what to expect from your company. In short, it is the customer facing manifestation of your business and its meaning. This is especially important in the FMCG category as on average it takes a consumer 3-5 seconds to notice a certain product among hundreds on a shelf and decide to purchase it or not . This is because the part of the brain used in this decision-making process uses conceptual visual cues, not rational conscious logical thought. So, if you want to get noticed… you need to develop a strong brand image.
Brands are also a strong tool for standout. They are a way of distinguishing yourself from competitors and clarifying what it is you offer that makes you the better choice. In a crowded market like the supermarket shelf or an Amazon webpage, getting noticed isn’t easy. To create standout, a brand needs to have an identity that connects with the emotional subconscious of its target audience – which is easier said than done. It is no surprise therefore that the world’s most recognisable brands – like Heinz, Burger King, Dunkin Donuts, Cadbury, and Mars, to name a few – have put hours of planning into formulating an identity for their brand which supports their marketing strategy.
How important is branding to your marketing strategy?
Branding is paramount to any marketing strategy. Before a marketing strategy can even start to be put together, a brand strategy needs to already be in place. Organisations need to discover what makes their business unique from other brands that offer a similar product or service. For example, Nike and Adidas offer a similar product which has created a rivalry between them, but through sticking to different and distinctive designs, fans of sport and fashion are encouraged to pick a side.
When creating a brand strategy, you need to look at the purpose of your brand and what it could and should mean to consumers and their identity. A brand strategy should clearly outline your unique values, attributes and stand out characteristics which define the selected market position or gap in the market that your brand is filling.
If your unique brand values are not obvious, semiotic analysis of your brand can be used to decipher your uniqueness. Semiotic analysis is the study of a brand’s signs, codes and symbols which communicate a meaning that is not the sign itself. It looks at the unique cultural meaning and role of your brand, not just within your category but also within society. This helps your brand have a relevant purpose that has credibility and reduces the likelihood that your brand might be misconstrued as purpose washing.
Understanding this hidden messaging via semiotic analysis allows brands to fully understand what they are communicating to consumers and alter this to reach consumers on a powerful level that bypasses rational filters. Once values are understood and your brand strategy is in place, a good brand will connect with its target audience on an emotional level and ensure that it is relevant both now and in the future.
How important is branding to the success of a product?
Effective branding is imperative to the success of an organisation. It will aid in differentiation and ultimately drive rate and volume of sale, repeat purchase, ongoing loyalty, and customer advocacy; over three quarters of consumers (76%) state they would buy from a brand they feel connected to over a competitor .
Branding can even influence the way an audience recognises the meaning behind words and phrases. For example, KitKat  redefined the phrase ‘taking a break’. By creating their ‘Have a Break – Have a KitKat’ slogan, the company was able to show customers the value of a break – whether from work or merely their current task – while being drawn back to the same chocolate snack. This strategy can take mere taglines and grow them into something far more influential in the way consumers link information back to certain products.
At 1HQ, we have found that the strongest brand positionings come from a deeper understanding of the emotional and cultural drivers and the signs codes and symbols (semiotics) that best express these. This can help businesses to create brand strategies that not only ensure internal targets and goals are met, but also that help your business become a catalyst for change, putting you at the vanguard of industry-wide brand innovation.